‘Don’t get ahead of yourself’ working process

Stairpiece rescaled.jpg

This piece was more focused on the watercolour painting phase of the work. It also turned into an exercise of me working on my portrait skills ending up painting myself eight times.

I took a bunch lying down because that was how I originally envisioned the many mes within the piece would look. The plan was to make a staircase out of myself with another me running up it ‘getting ahead of myself’

20170328_132120weird collage thing that I wish I never brought into being

I did a couple of rough sketches and then a collage made up of the selfies I took to try and get an idea of whether the staircase would work. What I found was that it turned into more of a pile and lost the look of a staircase. Whilst the staircase wasn’t completely necessary I wanted to be falling off something at the end and it would be more obvious I was falling off a staircase whereas here it might just look like I’m stepping over something.


With the stairs added on top of me it more looks like I am inside of them rather than making them up. The final idea I decided to put myself on each step as if I was laying down on them. That way you get the running me getting ahead of myself whilst having the definite staircase underneath.

The self portraits turned out well and was refreshing to do something as detailed as these for a change as it has been a while. I used these as a template for vectors but relied a lot more heavily on the painted details underneath because of what they are.

The vectors are used to make the watercolour textures bolder and fill in the white gaps. I do think it is the watercolours that are doing most of the work here and with vectors it wouldn’t be obvious that it was me.

The shapes of the bodies were made afterwards using vectors that followed the loose lines created by the watercolour that had followed what body was showing in the selfies. I then used masking layers in photoshop to add watercolour texture to the shapes I had created after exporting the illustrator file.

I thought the idea of the piece was good and am happy with the portrait stage. I think putting it together could have been smoother and I maybe could have drawn the whole thing as one to achieve this. With the time I gave myself to do this I have a reasonable final piece that I could work on to improve later


‘Learn to Work With People’ working process


The imagery for this piece is based on Atlas the Greek Titan who is often depicted holding up a globe, sometimes in a hunched stance. It also fits in with the ‘weight of the world on your shoulders saying’ before you remove the actual world from the equation. The idea was to show me struggling with taking on too much by myself and show two people in the background having an easier time with a task highlighting the benefits of working with people.

Earliest Roughs


The early stages of the brief began just because I wanted an image that showed a contrast between working alone and working with people. Lifting a heavy object on your own was a simple thing that came to mind as being difficult and then I thought of Atlas lifting the whole world. It was suitably all encompassing. The first image I did was just from what I remember existing pieces possibly looking like. I was fairly sure I wanted to brought to my knees in the piece to really show I am struggling compared to those in the background. At this stage I wasn’t sure what the object was going to be or how the background characters were going to be lifting theirs.


After the initial sketch I moved on to look at actual poses of how Atlas carried the world to use as reference for the piece and try and pick out the best way  to show me struggling with it. I also looked at a couple of regular people lifting heavy objects to see if I could get anything there as I was fairly sure at this point I wouldn’t be carrying an actual globe. The pose I began to lean towards was the crouching on one knee pose as it looks like I have either sunk down into it or am struggling to stand back up because of the weight. The others look like I am struggling but getting by and would look too similar to the background figures. This adds a different level to me as I am crouching and they are not.
I also decided towards the end of this part of the process to add elements of my life that could be weighing me down at this point such as having to pay for food, money issues and the idea of not being able to afford a house. I considered just labeling boxes to put on my shoulders but thought having the actual objects was way better and that the text was a lazy option.


An early idea for the background figures was to simply have them mimic them carrying what I am and to have it being carried by a crane to show their collectively more intelligent thinking. I decided in the end to have them carrying a sealed and neatly tied up wooden box being lifted in the background with them directing it. It shows how in comparison to me they have their life all ordered and neat and tidy. They don’t have to worry about it spilling all over the place.

atlAS pose

To move further with the brief I got some reference imagery of myself holding boxes in the pose I wanted. At first I tried to do it myself. With great difficulty. I got help so I could get a full body shot easier. The main reason for this was I couldn’t quite get my pose right and how I held the objects didn’t look right either when drawn from imagination. I thought I would need to get more images because I was stood a different way around because of my earlier work but after some thought decided this direction of facing works as it shows me avoiding teamwork by looking away from the team.


After a couple of attempts at creating an image from what turned out to be a very awkward, unusual pose to draw I came out with this to use as a vector template and background texture. I moved the leg on the left slightly as it looks a little too high on the image. I later learned of the puppet wrap tool which would have been a better method of doing this but I didn’t know about it at the time so this was a crude cut and paste job but you can probably only tell if I point it out.

The vector I created using the same methods as the previous D&AD piece. The right image shows where I moved the leg and how the piece looks with the under texture. I find using a slightly brighter colour over the top helps define the light and shadow of these pieces. I rely on the texture to provide the difference. The vector acts as the solid colour whilst having only a little detail whilst the watercolour acts as the texture but has a lot of white showing through and isn’t as bold and image unless heavily built up.


At this stage I still had the block shapes on my shoulder that just served to give me an idea of how I would be holding things. Using these as a sort of group of templates I could add detail to what I was holding.


You can still see how these objects fit into the original shapes. I just had to tweak a couple of the lines and think up good objects to replace them. This worked better than the original idea of just labeling the boxes with text; when looking at the step just before this shapes on their own looked really uninteresting when you have this step to compare it too. The money was a way for me to make this figure connect with the rest of the piece. Having it fly out onto the floor grounded it so that it wasn’t just figures in a space.


The creation of the background figures was exactly the same as everything else vector and paint texture-wise. The pose the guy in red is in was based on signals given by a guy directing airplanes into landing. I originally had the idea of him pointing or directing the box in some way but pointing could be interpreted as him being less helpful. This gives the figure a better look of interaction with the figure helping move the box into place. The background figure was simply designed to look relaxed and at ease with the job he was doing in contrast to me in the foreground. He isn’t really having to lift the box as it is being lifted into place by the ropes. To connect these figures to the piece I gave them long shadows. It made them look less like they were stood in a green vacuum.

For the background I went for a ‘grass is greener on the other side’ idea. I was kneeling in a cracked dirt area whilst they work in a more pleasant grass with grey sky to sunlight being in the background. I did this using gradients to get the best gradual transition between them with some hard vector shading for the cracks just done with the pen tool. The angle of the ground in the back is diagonal because it draws the eye into the front of the image where I am and skews the scale and perspective a little bit. It makes it look like I am being cramped into that corner whilst the back figures have more room to work. It is also a lot more interesting than having a line down the middle like most other pieces I do.

I am reasonably happy with how the piece turned out especially the pose I got on myself and the objects on my back. I feel like the figures in the background are okay but could maybe be darkened a little  and the money could do with some work as the blurred look is a little odd alongside everything else.